Sunday, January 31, 2010

factsfirst

factsfirst is a personalized online math program that "...builds a child's confidence and helps develop instant recall of basic facts..." As part of my review period for The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, I was given a free trial subscription to factsfirst.



After creating a character, my boys' favorite part, (and I must say my character turned out pretty cute too!) we proceeded to the lessons. Within those units, there are more than 360 activities that teach, encourage and challenge our growing knowledge of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. Following each lesson, we had the opportunity to play games in the arcade for five minutes. Through colorful graphics, and fun sound effects, the games reinforce what we've just learned.
Through the Math Matrix, we can see how well we've done so far, and where we need to work some more.

My family loves factsfirst. The program was very engaging. Our growing interest in math has been increased since using factsfirst. It's been fun for our whole family; even Mommy! If I could make one suggestion to the company, it would be to add a preschool/kindergarten section. Middleman (just turned five) enjoys watching the lessons and playing the games, but gets a bit frustrated when he cannot give correct answers every time!

Don't just take my word for it. Check out what other reviewers have to say!

factsfirst offers a free demo on their website. I would recommend checking it out! For a one year household license, which covers four children, you'll pay $49.99.

Mathscore

I was given a free trial subscription to Mathscore for review purposes. Mathscore is an online math practice program for students between first grade and algebra. Some of the third grade topics are

Fast Addition
Understanding Multiplication
Basic Word Problems
Rounding Numbers
Unit Cost
Time Conversion

The cost for the program is $14.95 for the first student, $5 for the second and $3.95 for each student thereafter. You can view demos here.

In my family, we prefer our supplemental computer work to have lots of graphics, sound effects and a general feeling of "mommy can I play that!" Unfortunately, with Mathscore, we did not get that. The program is very worksheet oriented, which was not hugely appealing to us. I ended up using it more than my 8 and 5 year old boys. It actually helped reinforce my math skills so that I might be able to teach my little guys better! I did notice that they had made some changes for the better, between the times that I logged in. So it does appear the program may work better for my students later on.

Please read what other reviewers had to say here. And check out the Mathscore website here.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Keyboarding for the Christian School

Ah, typing; one of my favorite subjects... literally! I would absolutely love to get paid to type. If anyone knows how I might get started, please let me know! I am so thankful for the typing class that I was compelled to take in high school. I might never have been able to edit Hero's writing assignments if I hadn't (sorry, Babe, even you admit you're a terrible typist!).



All that is said because, I am thrilled that Keyboarding for the Christian School was made available for me to review. I was given two levels of the program. The first for kindergarten to fifth grade, and the second for sixth grade and up.



The elementary version covers

Touch Typing Technique

Alphabetic Keys

Numbers and Symbol Keys

Number Pad

Centering

Enumerated Lists

Timed Writings

Timing Scale

The upper level covers all of the above plus:
Tab Key

MLA Reports

APA Reports

Cover Page

Works Cited

Bibliography

Personal-Business Letters

Envelopes

Proofreader's Marks

Tables

I focused mainly on the elementary version for Butterbean (8). Each lesson begins with an encouraging Scripture verse. The letters are learned first, with each lesson building upon what was learned the day before. The lessons also contain graphics of the keyboard, so your student has a visual. The instructions are easy to understand, even for an elementary reader. The lessons are short, allowing him to use the program virtually independently. By lesson 18 your student is typing text straight from God's Word. How exciting to not only learn how to type, but to learn Bible verses as well!

The section about the number keypad was pretty helpful, as some of the math websites we're reviewing require use of the keypad. However, Butterbean wasn't quite ready for official typing lessons. I do plan to use this curriculum when I feel he is ready.

Here's what really surprised me. I left the screen open one day to the first lesson. Hero sat down and proceeded to complete the lesson! Hmm, I have been know to strew things even for him, but who knew a typing program would be of interest!

I think overall, Keyboarding for the Christian School is a great program. If you'd like to read more about it, you can check out my fellow Crew members' blogs here. And if you'd like to purchase the ebook curriculum, you can do so here for $22.